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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CHRAJ contests court ruling on Mabey and Johnson

Emile Francis Short
Emile Francis Short

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is challenging a ruling by an Accra Human Rights Court prohibiting it from investigating the Mabey and Johnson scandal.

CHRAJ Commissioner Emile Francis Short in an interview with Joy News’ Sammy Darko said his outfit does not accept the ruling.

“Obviously we don’t accept the ruling, we think that it is flawed, incorrect and therefore we will take steps to [challenge it]. The most important part is that we don’t accept the ruling.”

On Friday, Justice Peter Paul Derry of the Human Rights Court ruled that Mr. Short has made prejudicial statements that raised questions about the commission’s neutrality in its bid to investigate the case in which the former government officials are alleged to have been bribed by the British construction firm, Mabey and Johnson.

He noted that Mr. Short’s statement was made on behalf of the commission and therefore CHRAJ has lost the power to continue investigations into the bribery scandal.

But Mr Short said the commission has problems with the “entire ruling” by the court and would by Tuesday or later come out with a press statement “to state what cause of action the commission will take.”

He also disagreed that he made prejudiced comments on a TV interview, thus making conclusive statements on the fate of the suspects.

Meanwhile, since the ruling, anti-corruption campaigners have condemned the decision by the court. They have subsequently questioned the commitment of the judiciary to the fight against corruption.

Nana Ato Dadzie, one of the lawyers who represented the ex-government officials who took CHRAJ to court, said he was surprised by the anti-corruption campaigners’ stance on the issue, insisting that the judge made a “very reasoning judgment” after listening to both sides.

“I think that the CHRAJ and all those who are pushing and advancing arguments as though the judge did something wrong should all help to strengthen the institutions of state like the judiciary. If a judge makes a decision, and if you disagree, you simply go and appeal but you don’t go and scandalize the court or the judge,” he told Joy News.

He urged anti-corruption campaigners to ensure that their crusade on any human right issue is backed by law.

Nana Ato Dadzie said even though his client is “innocent” of the alleged bribery, he is ready to appear before “any legitimate court if there is legitimate evidence or information”.

“I am afraid I need to say this that CHRAJ had no business in this [bribery allegation], they didn’t have any evidence, they were simply on a wild-goose chase,” he observed.

Story by Isaac Essel/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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